The society represented (or implied) in Star Trek may by utopian,
yet recall, if you will, how visually dark the last Star Trek movies
were. It was as if the future were a time of drastic energy shortages.
Shadows and darkness seemed to loom everywhere.
Now, clearly, this owes more to contemporary film aesthetics
than to some coherent vision of a dystopian society.
Yet precisely because of the seeming popularity of what I would
call the 'Noir' look, which is considered more visually 'complex'
than some kind of straightforward lighting style,
we've had a number of films set in the future which appear
more dreary, more stark, more bleak, more 'dystopian' -- at least
stylistically -- that even when not setting out to do so they '
convey a vision of the future as one which is hardly 'utopian,'
hardly a place of sweetness and light, but rather a place of Gothic
You and I know the future is likely to be very well-lit;
even our streetlights are substantially brighter than those of
30 years ago, and our workplaces are over-lit, if anything.
Yet the Starship Enterprise, in the cinematic releases, that is,
grew darker and darker, and with it, the world, the faraway planets,
I don't think Star Trek is meant to convey a negative or Dystopian
vision, yet an element of cinematic technological (and stylistic)
determinism made the films into faintly nightmarish depictions
of the future.
By contrast, the old re-runs look bright and happy, full of
clean well-lighted places.
-- Derek Bouse